March Showers Bring Days Without Baseball

A rainy one down in Florida yesterday as the Cardinals and Twins, along with a number of other games around the state, were washed away by a spring storm.  That doesn’t mean, of course, that we were completely devoid of news.  There seems to be always something!

The biggest “something” would be that the Cardinals and Matt Carpenter are apparently close to an extension in the six-year, $50-55 million neighborhood.  (It’s a nice neighborhood.)  I’ve been a bit wary of this, given that baseball is littered with guys who had a great season and then were never heard from again.  However, he had a solid season in 2012 as well and, while he probably won’t hit 2013 heights again, there’s no particular reason save lack of history to think that he’d tail off and make this look like a bad move for the Redbirds.  The price seems to be reasonable and shouldn’t be a drain on payroll even if he does slide way down the production ladder.

Given the comments (and you can see Bernie Miklasz’s column for more of this), it sounds like this is a contract that rewards not only the player on the field, but the person off of it.  It sounds like he’s one of the leaders in the clubhouse and his work ethic is something to be admired.  We’ve come to expect positive results from just about anything John Mozeliak does, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that this instance should be different.

We also heard yesterday that Oscar Taveras did some drills and workouts and came away feeling very good about his ankle.  It sounds like there’s a strong possibility we’ll see him in one of the two games today, most likely the one in Jupiter.  (Can’t imagine him traveling just yet.)  We are three weeks away (basically) from the beginning of the season, so Taveras really doesn’t want to spend much more time away from the field.  There are small odds–even smaller than they were at the beginning of spring–that he’ll make the team, but he needs to let people know where he’s at in real competition.  Plus, you never know, a three-week hitting spree and he might make some decisions real difficult.

We’re still waiting on Kolten Wong‘s first hit of the spring, but it’s possible that won’t be too far in the future.  Rob Rains writes that Wong is starting to relax and have fun, which seems to be a key step in his developmental process.  A relaxed and confident Wong will likely start seeing hits fall and hopefully that will just snowball.  He’s in a different spot that Taveras is–three weeks is plenty of time for him to cement his role and hopefully we’ll see a strong offensive showing from him the rest of spring.

The long-discussed deal to bring Tim McCarver to Fox Sports Midwest is done, with McCarver working 30 games this year.  I still think this is going to be an interesting move.  If nothing else, that’s 30 games that we don’t have Al Hrabosky and Ricky Horton, which seems to be a good thing given the general fan comments.  McCarver has seen a lot and I think the games he does with Dan McLaughlin should be a nice change of pace.  I’m not sure if we’d want him every game, but 30 out of 162 seems pretty reasonable.

Former Cardinal Rick Ankiel retired this week.  Nobody could write a lookback piece on Ankiel like Will Leitch, which is a great read.  I always was a big fan of Ankiel, both when he was a young pitcher coming up (I’ll never forgive myself for not getting to Little Rock when he was pitching at AA) and when he reinvented himself.  Ankiel seems to have taken his issues in stride and I hope that he finds that post-career job in baseball that he’s looking for.  It’d be great if it was with St. Louis.

The Cardinal Hall of Fame voting starts today.  If you want to be an informed voter, you really need to check out Pip’s Voter’s Guide over at Fungoes.  Lots of great and very relevant information as you start deciding which two Cardinals should be included in this year’s Hall of Fame class.

Not only do the Cardinals take on the Marlins today, but they are the featured team for Playing Pepper this afternoon.  Cards also take on the Mets with Carlos Martinez on the mound, so there’s a lot to keep an eye on this afternoon!

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